Christmas in Calgary, 1886

Hard upon the heels of the Great Calgary Fire of 1886, Calgary slipped into Christmas celebrations.

Here is an account "liberally" adapted from the Calgary Weekly Herald 31 December 1886 to give a sense of the Holidays.


Christmas day was observed throughout Calgary and vicinity in a quiet but hearty manner. Social reunions and small dinner parties were the order of the day.

For the week last past the weather has been exceedingly changeable, going from hot to cold with the agility of a school boy who rides down a hill for the privilege of walking back.

Christmas day was the coldest day of the season, the register indicating 31 degrees below zero [Note: This still stands as a record low for Christmas Day in Calgary of -35C]. The bitter cold, the thermometer being 29 degrees below zero in the afternoon prevented driving parties.

We only heard of one man being left this cold snap and we can assure him that he has our sympathy. It happened in this way. He sallied forth early this morning to purchase a coal stove and after a fruitless search of two hours and a half was forced to give up in despair. There is not a coal stove for sale in the town.

The churches were all decorated with evergreens from the neighborhood, and flowers from British Columbia. Midnight mass was celebrated at the Mission church on Christmas Eve to a goodly congregation. The Church of the Redeemer was very tastefully and appropriately decorated for Christmas services. The windows and walls were artistically ornamented with evergreens, interspersed with scriptural mottoes, such as, the following which arched the pulpit and altar: "Unto us a child is born".

The North West Mounted Police Brass Band entertained the City Band to a supper at the Barracks on Christmas Night. A goodly number of guests were present who partook of the good things furnished by the musical knights and a very pleasant evening was spent by everyone present.

The hotels all had table set with the customary Christmas dishes. The large numbers of citizens and settlers who have recently been joined by their families, celebrated the day in the good old time way they had not had an opportunity of doing since they came to the country. On all hands it was owned to be a quiet, but very pleasant, Christmas.

The funeral of the late H.S. Blondin which took place December 26 afternoon at the Mission cemetery, was attended by a large concourse of friends and acquaintances.

Trott's new drug store is nearly ready for occupancy and presents a conspicuous and fine appearance.

It has been stormy and unpleasant, the wind blowing 20 miles an hour. Both the east and west trains were late, consequently delaying the delivery of mail matter from the post office. The train from the west was 9 hours late, travelling through a blizzard since the previous morning.

Considerable snow fell last night and today the jingle of merry sleigh bells are heard on every side and truly the Calgaryites are enjoying the festive season in their western style. Not too cold to be uncomfortable but suitable for jolly sleigh riding.

Extensive preparations are being carried on for the Firemen's Ball on New Year's eve. This should be liberally patronized by our citizens, as the company is young and need all the assistance they can get and whatever recognition and assistance they now receive will but add to their efficiency in times of trouble when their services shall be needed.

Another Christmas has past into oblivion and the sojourners here have once more settled down to the old routine of every day labor. The time approaches when bills due should read "1887".